Sunday Strength

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

~Psalm 91:14-16



I am taking Biblical counseling classes through my church. This was week 3 and as our Pastor put it, we have, for the last two weeks hopped onto the roller coaster and ridden over a short hill with a little blip. Last night, though... last night we climbed the "big" hill and left ourselves hanging at the top wondering just how far up did we come.

That never excites me.

Not in a "I want to do this" kind of way. I could already see the challenge - this course is going to take everything I know about how I relate to God and the world around me and make me make some decisions. Am I going to live how I say I believe?

Biblical counseling means exactly that: the Bible is all-sufficient for all of our needs. If we wonder how we are to live, what we are to do, how to deal with depression or adultery or marriage or... well... life. We look at Scripture. Nothing else is needed. Nothing. The Bible IS the final authority, the only authority. It IS the Word of God.

Last night proved this going to be one amazing roller coaster ride. Even as I type this I am still processing what I heard last night.

What I need to do, though is work through how to vocalize what I heard, share what I heard. What I heard was God speaks to us through Scripture, not in any other way. We do not "hear" God speak to us. That doesn't happen anymore. This part made perfect sense to me: We pull from Scripture, we do not read into it. What the Scripture says is what it says. A really good example of how we can "read into" Scripture is this thread:

First - the Scripture:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind: and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself. '

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

Second - the "How that has been read into":

In order to love your neighbor as yourself, you must first learn to love yourself.

If you are spending your time learning to love yourself, you are spending your time focused on who? Hint: Not God.

It is far to easy, for us in our sinful nature, to make things about "me." It is often subtle and we don't realize we've done it but there it is... and there it continues to be.

As our Pastor said - this way of thinking will not make us popular, not only with non-Christians but Christians as well. As a Christian, I am constantly amazed at what I've "gotten wrong" and have to re-learn. As we grow in our understanding and confidence, it will probably become more & more apparent. For me (see - back to me) - I thought I was already "aware" of this "about me" issue and I thought I was doing a decent job at fighting it.

Boy do I have a ways to go....

Thank God I serve an amazing, brilliant, perfect, infinite and patient God. I am so unworthy but humbled and grateful beyond words. I can't wait for next week's class. I actually can't wait to do the homework!


Sunday Strength

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;

the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.

~Psalm 103:11-16


Predicted Sex Demand During Olympics


This story aired last night.

Roadblocks: The Dangerous Driving Habits We Can’t Shake - DivineCaroline

Roadblocks: The Dangerous Driving Habits We Can’t Shake - DivineCaroline

I have often said that we have forgotten the fact that our vehicles can be deadly weapons. We drive them as if they are toys, we consider the laws of driving to be "suggestions" and we trust too much in the idea of "safer vehicles." If we all remembered (1) Everyone else has someplace they have to be, too (2) Laws aren't meant to "spoil our fun" but to keep us safe and (3) We are in control of something that has the capability to kill and drove accordingly, we might all have a more pleasant experience on the road. And a few lives may be saved. Just maybe...


Sunday Strength

The Lord is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.

He is my God and I will praise Him,
My father's God and I will exalt Him.

~Exodus 15:2



We have all heard of the devastation in Haiti. The horrific stories don't stop coming, either. I can't imagine being the mother of 5 living children one moment and the mother of 5 dead children the next. That, though, is the horror at least one woman is dealing with in the aftermath of this earthquake. She has lost her home, her husband her children... I can close my eyes and try but I can't picture it. I can't imagine the depth of her pain. When I heard her story on the radio they said she sits on a mattress - outside (there are so few buildings left standing) - and is quiet except that every once in a while the pain becomes too much and she starts screaming and crying. I can relate to pain that drives you to the brink of madness. I've been there but not like that, not with anywhere near the same loss.

In the poorest country in this hemisphere, a lot has been lost. What touches me, too, is how many people describe the people of Haiti as calm and quiet - still polite despite their pain. In this country it probably would have taken all of 5 seconds for someone to call someone else a name and for the looting to start, fires to be set and the guns to start shooting.

People are stepping up to help in whatever way they can. You can text "Haiti" to 90999 and $10 will be charged to your cell phone bill and that $10 is donated to the American Red Cross. The last I heard over $10 million and climbing has been raised that way.

You can also text "Yele" to 501501 and $5 will be donated to Yele Haiti. That is a relief group for Haiti set up by Wyclef Jean, a Haiti native.

My favorite organization for helping children, Compassion International, is also accepting donations. Compassion staff is still evaluating all that has happened to their programs, if any of their children have been lost or suffered loss in family and home. Information comes slowly right now. You, though, can help them, too. Just click here and you'll be directed to a donation page to help Compassion help Haiti.

World Concern is on the radio today, raising funds for the Haitian people. A $49 donation provides an earthquake survival kit to a family. It includes a plastic tarp/tent (shelter is gone), water purification pills, clean water, blankets and food.

Wherever you choose to give your money, I implore you to give as much as you possibly can. To say this has left Haitians with nothing is an understatement. People who are living on less than $2 a day have very little to lose. Savings is a concept so foreign because all they know is survival.

So much lost, so many lives ended. Please help them keep hope. If money is not something you can do, please pray. Implore God to provide strength to those who are helping with the rescue of those trapped, strength to those trapped in fallen buildings to not lose their fight to live, medical personnel - that they are able to do the work they were taught to do and have the supplies to do it... The list is extensive. Above all, pray for those who are dealing with such great loss. 5 children lost in a matter of seconds. I can't imagine what that mother is going through. I want to wrap her up in my arms and just hold her and cry with her. I have asked God to do it because I can't.


The Nester and One Awesome Giveaway

It's been a while since I've blogged about a giveaway. It just isn't something I've been all that interested in and I think I untapped a very deep well of "ooooohhhhhhh I want..." in all of that entering. Not always so flattering a look on a gal so...I backed out for a while.

This, though, is a giveaway I have to enter and talk about. Nester is offering one of the best, most fun giveaways I've seen in quite some time. Just...giggle and rub my hands together kind of fun! Hop on over to Dayspring-Danielson Design Studio and play with their new product. Create your own sign... Fun, beautiful signs and you get to design your own. And not do ANY work beyond a few clicks... Brilliant!!!

Here are a few of the designs I did:

My most favorite quote. It's from William Penn:
For Aaron's & my retirement dream home:
I know I put Aaron & I in there but... personalized wedding gift, anyone? Change the font color, change the design color... Options!
Who wouldn't be happy to have a Grandma Mae?
Our son and his Aunt have had special nicknames for each other for years. How incredibly awesome a gift would this be to get?

Oh how I hope I win!!! Which one will I choose? Oh... and right now? If you order from the website and use the code NEST2010, they'll give you 20% off of your order! What are you waiting for??? Head over there now!


Sunday Strength

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

~Hebrews 4:12


Verse for the Year

A few of years ago, God started impressing upon me verses for the year. I don't think I realized until this morning that's what it has been but it occurred to me there has been a verse each year which God puts in front of me several times in a very short period of time. I'm not talking one or two times, I'm talking 6 or more. It usually takes that many for me to realize this is important to Him for me.

In 2007, when He had me get up off the sidelines learning about human trafficking and actually dive into it full throttle, He gave me Proverbs 31:8-9: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

2008 He hit me with: He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. That's Proverbs 16:32.

In 2009, He set me up with "Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD, keep watch over the door of my lips." Psalm 141:3

(Noticing a theme with those last two?... I had some work to do....)

This year, it is Galatians 6:9: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

That one has been a serious punch in the gut. I didn't even realize I had given up on some things but when that verse popped up this morning (for the 5th time...) I started thinking about all that has happened in the last couple of years and just how... weary I am:

1. Tired of praying the same prayer over my oldest son to see nothing change.

2. Tired of waking up every day saying "today is the day I will forgive (there are a few names to fill in this blank)" and by nightfall realize I'd thought super-angry thoughts about a few of those people on my list. I haven't forgiven anyone anything.

3. Tired of praying God show us how to get me out of the full-time workforce so I can focus more on my volunteer work (yes - this one is pretty selfish, I know...) and instead have Him narrow my time so my volunteer work is less.

4. Tired of praying God takes away the desire to raise a daughter. He has seen fit to give me sons. Awesome sons. I love them more than I can say but...a daughter. Oh how I'd love a little girl. I joke and say "perhaps a granddaughter someday" and there would be no complaint from me to have one but for as long as I can remember I wanted a daughter. Sometimes the desires of our heart are not within His will. It is a fact I struggle to accept and have yet to be successful.

Weary. I pray day in and day out and yet...none of the above has worked the way I'd hoped. I hope this post doesn't sound whiny, I don't mean it to. It just struck me this morning when I heard the verse. Of those prayers I pray on a pretty regular basis that haven't been answered the way I would like them to, I wonder... what is it God is going to change this year? Part of me is nervous, too. While I know God works everything to the good of those who love Him, that working can hurt a bit. He'll be right there the whole time and my head knows all of that. My heart still says "but oh, I don't want the pain..." Will I like how things change? When the change happens, what else will be different because of the changes...

On and on my mind races. One word came to me when thinking of 2010 a few weeks ago - teachable. I hope to remain teachable. Another word came to me last night. Bold. Then this verse...

Can anyone beside me hear the shoulder harness on the roller coaster locking in place?



Today I was reminded why I love living in Washington State. One privilege I enjoy is living less than two miles from my office so I go home almost every day at lunchtime. The pictures below I took today when I pulled into a Park & Ride on 164th. This is the view as I'm traveling down the hill on 164th. Every. single. day. Ok - actually, every day it doesn't rain...

The other thing that came to mind as I was absolutely in awe at the scenery is God spoke it into existence. The Cascades didn't just happen. They weren't created by accident. They were created with purpose, on purpose and for God's glory.

He said the Words and there they were. He Spoke. No arm waving, no deep thinking, no putting His hands to His temple as He willed something to happen. He spoke. And there they were.

What happens when I speak? Usually confusion but certainly I'm not creating anything physical.

Power in its truest, most beautiful form... right there for me to see every day I drive down my hill.

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."

~Acts 17:24-27

My Puppy Loves to Sing

I have been trying & trying & trying to capture Max as he howls away with Christopher's piano practicing. Each time I'd go to grab the camera, though, the dog would spot me and stop howling. Tonight...it happened. I'm in the office working away & downloading pictures while Christopher is in the other room practicing and what happens? Max starts joining in. YAY!!

Now... yes. Christopher is practicing Christmas songs after Christmas. There is a reason for that, though and that is his lesson last week left him with songs that weren't quite so challenging for him so... back to Christmas to offer some variety.

Anyhow... enjoy the sing-along. I do love our dog!


Our New Living Room...Underway

My husband managers a fireplace store here in Washington. It's a small family store, has been in business for going on 33 years. The owner is in the process of turning the business over to his son.

There are few perks to having your husband manage a store like this but the few there are manage to be REALLY good ones (i.e. - a family atmosphere, the people who own the business genuinely care about it, etc.) One of them is the amazing deals you get as an employee.

When we first moved into this house, we purchased an insert from the shop for our fireplace. The insert we really wanted was about 3x the cost and we thought it might be a bit too big for this house. Well...that was a little while ago. We've discovered the original insert just doesn't have the power to heat quite as well as we would like. This house was built in the early 60's. It has baseboard heating. We turn them on only when we absolutely have to (a burn ban, for instance).

So...... my husband worked out an amazing deal with the owner and today this beauty was installed:

I am a bit disappointed with my camera at the moment. The stove looks black. It's not. It is this incredibly rich, beautiful distressed brown. I don't think I've ever heard the complete story of how it is painted but whatever the process, it has been perfected and it is gorgeous. Stunning. I fell head over heels for this stove the first time I saw it and I know I'm going to wake up morning after morning for months, if not years, still not quite believing I am blessed enough to have it in my home. If you can put gorgeous in a box, this is it.

This picture gives you at least a hint of the brown... My husband promises me it won't look black when we burn it so...I'm hoping I can take a few more pictures then.

Here is my husband and his awesome installer, Dean. Oh what beautiful work they do!!! Of course, this now means the living room will have to have the work I want to do in it done sooner rather than later... figure out a new mantel (might have to add a row of bricks because of the whole combustable/clearance thing) paint the walls, the bricks, finish the hearth, install new carpet (ok...that one will probably take a bit), move a light switch, update the light fixture, buy new drapes...and whatever I'm forgetting! Amazing what one change brings to light!

All of that will wait, though. In just a little while... fire...in my new insert... Ahhhhhhh... a perfect winter's evening!


Sunday Strength

I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!

He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.

~Deuteronomy 32:3-4


Happy New Year!

May 2010 be a year of joy, fulfillment, wonder and love.

An Irish Blessing:

I Wish You Enough
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye.

May you always have enough.